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[Ethics Case Studies] Social influence and persuasion

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Paper 4 | Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude | Social influence and persuasion


This initiative is a part of Target Mains programme for Mains 2017.

You can post your answers in the comment section. But mentor review of answers will not be available. Just like various other CD community initiatives, this will also be a peer-to-peer review exercise.

Model answers are available below in PDF format and can be used for personal evaluation.

Question 1:

You are posted as a DM in a small district. Your district suffers from socially backward problems like child marriage, female infanticide, dowry, etc. One day, a girl of about 18 years who is well educated, comes to you and informs you about her neighbors who are getting their daughter married at an age of 15 years. She tells you that she tried to convince her parents but was unsuccessful.

You immediately reach the spot of marriage. You see that all the preparations have been made. When you talk to the family, you come to know that the family is not well educated and thinks that girls should be married early as it’s the common practice in the whole village and they cannot go against it.

Given below are some options. Discuss them with their merits and demerits. Also suggest which course of action would you take and why?

(i) Convince the family and ask them not to send their daughter to her in-law’s place despite marriage being performed.
(ii) Talk to the girl and know her stand as that is most important.
(iii) Take strict action against the family under the law against child marriage.
(iv) Initiating a drive in the area in order to prevent such incidents in future.

Question 2:

You are the DM of a district. The education and health inspector of the region has submitted a report which stated that the local goons and people of higher caste are not allowing ASHAs and school teachers to provide facilities to the downtrodden people. They sell the education and health kits in open market and even sarpanch is not able to take action due to social boundations.
1. What are the various option you have in this case? Discuss them with their merits and demerits suggesting what course of action would you take?

Question 3:

Radical political groups are frequently harassing young couples on the ground of preservation of culture and morality, irrespective of the fact whether they are married or are just in a relationship. A café in the city was recently vandalized following a news channel report that it was allowing ‘immoral activities’ which was nothing less a simple holding of hands and occasional hugging among youngsters. The youngsters were assaulted when they protested. This event sparked off an open public protest. You are the DM in that district. Even in front of your office, couple are protesting in large number against the government authorities. The organizers maintained that it was not just about their personal rights but for greater tolerance towards respecting individual choices of the individuals.
How will you pacify the young couples? Evaluate various options and suggest what course of action will you take?

Questions, suggestions and comments

  1. Kunal Aggarwal

    Answer 3:
    Youngsters have a valid cause for protecting their rights. Irrespective of whether they are married or are just in a relationship, their right to freedom guaranteed by Constitution has been violated. They are protesting for the rights cause. Hence, DM need to show tolerance, sympathy and address their concerns along with maintaining law and order.

    DM has following options to pacify the young couples:
    1. Invite few of them to discuss the situation and register a formal FIR against the offenders who assaulted them. This would show direct action and would pacify them right away. However, this may attract political and religious backlash from many people who believe they have violated public morality.

    2. Promise them to take action against assaulters as soon as possible. This would require building trust with them. However, any promises which can not be fulfilled should not be made as it may impact the trust in government.

    3. Setup an enquiry committee to look into the incident and make it broad based by including members from civil society, academia and government. This would ensure that youngsters believe that government is working for them and their concerns will be addressed.

    DM has to ensure that he connects with the youngsters and appeal to them to stop their protests. Government must take action against the offenders if there were any violations of people’s fundamental and legal rights. A formal legal procedure would ensure fair right to justice and to be heard to both sides.

  2. Kunal Aggarwal

    @Pooja, @root – Are there no sample solutions for these 3 case studies? Can you please upload if there are? Thanks 🙂

    1. Tanay Rathi

      Kunal, you can get all case studies and solutions in the ethics case studies compilation. Link for it is- http://imojo.in/5y6jyh

  3. Kunal Aggarwal

    Answer 2:
    Caste discrimination and misuse of government sources are depriving people of their rights to access the government services being provided. The case here requires ensuring that the benefits reach to the people and proper accountability at all levels is ensured. In long term perspective, caste based discrimination should also end.

    1 – File an FIR against the goons for obstructing public officers from conducting their duties and misusing government funds by selling kits in open market.
    Merit – This would ensure proper legal action, would set a trend in society and act as deterrent for others. This would ensure access to services.
    Demerits – This may risk DM’s own life as he may get threats. It may also lead to cast based violence.

    2 – Talk to the people from higher caste about injustice in caste based discrimination. Persuade them or even warn them about legal actions that can be taken.
    Merit – This would lead to acceptance by will rather than use of force. This has higher chances of building a long term solution.
    Demerits – It will take time to reflect in society and build a consensus and people will be deprived of benefits till that time.

    3. Provide training to ASHAs, teachers and other authorities such as Sarpanch on handling such situations. The issue was not reported by them. They should be provided with firm reassurance that their concerns would be addressed and motivated to do their duty towards people.
    Merit – Local capacity for long term system of accountability and ensuring that these discriminations do not hamper service access.
    Demerits – They may themselves be in involved in discrimination and thus might not solve the problem in long term.

    DM should motivate the Sarpanch to take an action and deliver service. A social awareness campaign against caste discrimination could help. Goons should be warned and strict action can be taken if needed. For the loss to the government, goons should be made to compensate and the losses be recovered for which FIR should be filed. The most important is to deliver services immediately as any delay in unacceptable.

  4. Kunal Aggarwal

    Answer 1:

    Child marriage is a major social problem which impacts the physical and mental health of child. The practice is still followed due to multiple reasons such as patriarchy which believes that girl belongs to other house and should be handed over as soon as they can. It also emanates from beliefs on protecting the chastity of women, their security and dowry system. In this case, the DM must stop the marriage and ensure her healthy development.

    i) Merits – The girl would be saved from possible early pregnancy, mental trauma and ensure her full development before marriage.
    Demerits – Child Marriage is illegal and supporting it would make the DM a party to offence. It is morally degrading and a wrong example is being set in society.

    ii) Merits – Freedom of choice of the girl ensures less conflict between society and state. It would allow DM to convince the parents as their child may not be ready for marriage.
    Demerits – The child is a minor and is not eligible to take such independent decisions. The child might be forced by parents.

    iii) Merits – Taking strict action under Child Marriage Restraint Act would promote right values and promote following of law in society. It would save the girl child from marriage and allow her development
    Demerits – It does not change the views of society about marriage or girl child and the practice will continue in remote corners.

    iv) Merits – Attitudinal and behavioural change in people would ensure long term voluntary compliance with law
    Demerits – It does not solve the current problem. Current marriage is not addressed through this.

    The solution requires immediate step to stop this marriage and long term measures to inculcate right values in society. DM should talk to the family and try to convince them. Parents can be threatened with legal action for conducting this marriage which might deter them. Taking strict action is an option that can be executed finally to stop the marriage. There should be campaigns through TV channels, social media and local events to check the practice of child marriage.

  5. rashi aggarwal

    A girl is to be married at young age which is against the law in my district. The family is socially backward and not well educated to understand laws.

    The options available are-
    1. Convincing the family to not send their daughter to in-laws place despite marriage being performed
    -It will be not lead to wastage of her parents’ money who has already made preparations
    -Parents can be saved from punishment by law
    -this will not solve the problem as women will have no right to decide for herself
    -parents might agree for now, but monitoring will be difficult
    -it can affect girl’s personal life and it will amount to state encroaching into her privacy

    2. Talk to the girl and know her stand
    -As she is the one whose life is being decided, this step would give effective voice to her as she has the right to decide for herself
    -She is minor and doesn’t have an understanding of the consequences and can’t be considered to take objective decision
    -She is likely to be influenced by her family and society where child marriage is normal practice and she might not find anything wrong in it.

    3. Taking strict action against family under law
    -It will bring the perpetrators of crime to be booked by law
    -It will set a precedent in the district where other families will also think twice before practicing child marriage
    -It will lead to harassment of family and community
    -It will be a financial burden too where people might start feeling that girl child is a burden and can lead to increase in female infanticide and foeticide

    4. Initiating a drive in the area for prevention of such incidents
    -It will bring awareness
    -It will have long lasting solution
    -It is a slow process and needs a lot of patience wherein many girls will be married in younger age till the change occurs
    -It depends upon the audience who might not like to change their views.

    Therefore, It would be wise to convince parents of the girl by telling them the cons of getting their girl married at young age. This should be conducted in presence of whole community including young boys and girls. This will generate awareness among them. As bringing a change in children’s thinking is easier, so if young girls and boys start recognising child marriage is a “problem” and not normal, the job will be half done. It will be a lasting solution and if they further, assert to their parents that they don’t want to get married so early, child marriage can be tackled from roots. Here, young boys should be specifically targeted as they can bring the change, given our society is patriarchal and girls donot get to express strong opinions specially in backward areas.

    For immediate solutions, talking to parents and then explaining them that what they are doing is against the law and can lead to punishment will lead to generation of fear and they can stop the marriage for now. However, strict action under law should be taken in extreme situation when they donot comply even after persuasion as this step will lead to harassment. It should be remembered that change begins within the society slowly, and any imposition can lead to resentment.

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